View Full Version : Advice for camping with an infant?
08-05-2002, 02:33 PM
Well, we're about to go camping for the first time with our 9-month old. We've lowered our expectations (no backpacking for a while) but logistically, this still seems more difficult than it ought to. We just upgraded to a 3-person tent, bought him an air matress and a cotton flannel sleeping bag to lie on (no sleeping in a sleeping bag for him until the threat of SIDS passes), and got a good backpack carrier (yeah for Campmor).
So, now what? We need a chair of some kind for him to eat in (he's primarily breastfed, but eats mommy & daddy's food too)--would a booster seat work? How do we wash him while ensuring that he doesn't get too cold? We've been told that he should sleep between us, but we've never slept with him--are we going to roll over on him? Is there a better way? All opinions/stories would be greatly appreciated.
08-05-2002, 03:41 PM
Bring along some light camp chairs and prepare for lap duty. Also, depending on your opinion, bug spray. There is this premetherin stuff (I'm not sure of the spelling) that you can spray on clothing, it then requires a couple hours to dry, and you can't have it touch your skin (yeah, it sounds like nasty stuff) but once it's dry it's safe to wear, it'll keep the deer ticks and other nasties off the little tyke. As far as bathing goes, the kid is gonna get filthy and love it. Just bring along alot of wet wipes if the dirt is going to bother you. We have a portable crib that we haul around, but if you are "car camping" that shouldn't be a problem, it's not too far from the tent to the car. Our portable crib has paid for itself many times over, and it certainly makes us feel safer while camping. We also use it at Gramma's house and other sleepovers.
Most importantly have fun, My son has been a camper for nearly 2 years, and he just loves the discovery and wonder of the great outdoors. Earlier this year my son stumbled and had his hand land on the fire grate (tip: know where the closest emergency room is (tip 2: Ford Explorers tend to float on gravel roads while going over 70)) He still cried when we took the tent down (2nd degree burn on his hand, he's fine now, and still loves camping)
Bring a first aid kit, just in case.
Man, readiing back, is it a horror story? In all seriousnous, kids love camping, parents that are used to camping will find it to be a bit more work than they expected. But it is a blast just watching the little brains soak it all in.
Bring a video camera, I still kick myself for not having one while watching my then 13 month old trying to follow a butterfly through the tall grass.
08-05-2002, 03:49 PM
NurseCarmen did a very good job of covering the basics. I'd only add that it's a lot trickier to rollover onto a kid than people would expect. Even in your sleep you feel them there. Maybe you should try it at home first to get used to it, though.
08-06-2002, 12:41 AM
I wonder if they still make port-a-cribs. (I'm not sure it's the same thing as Nurse's portable crib. It was collapsible, about 3' long)My parents used one for me the first time they brought me camping- when I was seven weeks old. My pediatrician gave it his ok, so they decided to go for it. odd. They didn't have to worry about where to put me in that way. Hope it doesn't rain the entire time like mom said it did then! :)
08-06-2002, 03:20 AM
My only advice (and NurseCarmen mentioned it) would be to take extra care with the cooking arrangements; part of the fun of camping is the ad-hoc cooking, but this sometimes involves eating out of bean tins with sharp edges and not having the right knife for the job (and not having a proper place to put it down.
Oh, and the drinking water; boil and cool it for kiddo at least.
08-06-2002, 04:48 AM
Take twice as many changes of clothes as you'll anticipate you'll need.
Boo Boo Foo
08-06-2002, 05:31 AM
What a timeley thread. I become a daddy for the first time in November and guess what? My partner and I just love camping on an island nearby which is a National Park. Thankfully, unlike you North Americans, no bears!
Thanks for the tips.
P.S. I hadn't considered yet (foolish me) the need to do some SIDS research. At the risk of a slight hijack people, feel free to offer advice to me on that score too.
08-06-2002, 07:15 AM
A porta-crib is a good idea. We took our tyke camping whern he was...uhm, lemme think...just over three months old. What you need to bring really depends on the age of the kid. For ours, we just made sure he had something to lay down in. When he was older...toddling around and such...we made sure there were plenty of clean clothes, and we kept his hands and face clean. If you try to keep the kid clean overall, you will be fighting an uphill battle and, believe me, waste both his time AND yours.
Camping with wee ones is really easier than you probably think it will be.
08-06-2002, 08:12 AM
Okay, I haven't actually camped with my kids yet (I've been to 'summer camp' type camp, in cabins, but not out-in-the-woods camp). But I was a camped kid, as was my younger brother. Lemme see what I can recall...
Does the backpack have a 'kickstand'? We got one of those plastic 'catch the food' bibs for Gabe and fed him in the backpack, with it open in 'stand' position. He was about 8 1/2 months old. Hook a leg through the stand, though - they aren't stable enough completely on their own, but if you are used to using a high chair, this is easier than eating with the kid on your lap. (If you regularly eat with the kid on your lap, you'll not need to do this.)
We used a travel yard (pack-n-play) for summer camp - very very useful for restraining explorative kid while not in a safe zone. But they're quite a big thing to haul around if you are packing out to your campsite. Also probably too big for the tent. You can even get bug mesh covers for them, so they are a bug-free zone, too.
Bug spray is a must. First aid kit is a must. Include antihystamines in the kit (for bug bites and other unexpected allergies). Some kids are yummy to bugs. Include instant ice pack, too.
RE: the mattress, I'd actually go for something like a ... dang, can't remember the name of it, but the thin-but-inflatable sleep pads, and one of the stiffer types of waterproof mat (flannel on one or both sides) instead of a sheet. Does your son ever nap on the floor? If so, he'll sleep fine on a thinner mat, as long as it isn't lumpy. I'd be more concerned that the air mattress would not be firm enough, leading to more of a SIDS issue than a flat mat would.
I'd definitely suggest at least napping once or twice with the baby before you decide about cosleeping during camping - it may not be HIM that suffers. Kids who are used to having full range of the crib may or may not be happy about having YOU there. You may find yourself kicked a lot. Often in the head.
The risks of rolling over on your kid are influenced by several factors. In this case your most probable concerns are alcohol (or other sedatives) if you drink while camping (some do, some don't), and exhaustion or sleep deprivation. The best study on the subject (specifying specific risks) that I've found is this one (http://bmj.com/cgi/content/full/319/7223/1457) from the Britsh Medical Journal. Also, if one of you is a snorer, there's a chance that indicates sleep apnea, which can contribute to the difficulty waking problem (just another form of sleep deprivation).
The reason for having him sleep between you is so that he doesn't roll up against the tent wall and suffocate or rebreathe his own CO2. I've had good luck with having my son sleep with his head on my arm (he sleeps on his side, facing me, head on my upper arm, my arm loops down and curves around his back - I'm on my back in that position, BTW). This makes me very aware of if epeepunk rolls too close or drops an arm over our son. If you are used to this, it is easy to sleep, if you aren't, it may make you wake up all night long. There's an alternative but I don't know if it is backpackable - it is a kind of cosleeping infant bed that fits in your bed, in between you - it has firm walls along the upper sides and top, so you'd really notice (OUCH) if you rolled onto it. It looks pretty lightweight. Here's one version (http://www.mommysthinkin.com/snuggle_nest.htm). Not cheap, but might be worth it. I'd be prone to skipping the sleeping bags entirely, myself - Flannel sheets, maybe? Is it going to be cold at night?
What else... I agree with not worrying about the baths - bring corn starch and baby wipes. And the Aveeno (oatmeal) waterless baby wash (nonsmelly, too!). Love that stuff - even good for washing their hair without water.
I think that's all I can remember. One last thing: Have fun! Winging it was a big part of our camping trips as a kid. Aside from the times I didn't get bug spray on and ended up swollen up from bug bites, I usually had a decent time, and often a great time.
08-06-2002, 08:18 AM
Just pray the little guy doesn't get poison ivy like I usd too. Head to toe and all parts in between. Yes, that's right, ALL parts.
08-06-2002, 08:20 AM
Thanks all, for the good advice.
NurseCarmen: Thanks! Lots of good advice. We're trying to avoid the bug repellant poison--I'm afraid to use the stuff on myself. We'll probably try the usual citronella/SkinSoSoft, etc. stuff and long sleeves instead. The porta crib sounds interesting (and thanks elfkin477 for the description). I was wondering if our pack'n'play playpen would fit in the tent (it isn't very wide). I guess when we seam-seal it we can try to fit it in and see.
Mangetout: We use a water filter for natural sources. Do you think that's sufficient for kidlings? We wouldn't have to boil potable water from campgrounds, would we?
Tsubaki: That pretty much guarantees that we'd have to bring all the clothes he has :) Since we're car camping, we can get to a laundromat every once in a while. (Wow, I just looked up the spelling for laundromat and it still looks wrong).
Boo Boo Foo: Mine was born November 12th--how about yours?
Hama: Thanks for the encouragement. We have friends who take their three small kids hiking all the time. I think they've even gone backpacking. We're trying to get advice from them, but they're on the road now and we can't get it touch with them. I hope it will be easier than I think. He's a pretty mellow kid, so we have that going for us.
08-06-2002, 08:23 AM
Boo Boo Foo, at 9 months, the risk of SIDS for your child is quite low. He/She is probably rolling over, right? Here is a WebMD (http://my.webmd.com/encyclopedia/article/3609.6394) article on the subject. If you made it this far, chances are good (but not nonexistent) that you're kid is out of danger.
SIDS is a major category of infant death between the ages of 1 and 12 months, but it is relatively rare.
In the United States, about 1 in 1,440 babies died of SIDS in 1997.1 The rate dropped steadily throughout the 1990s in the wake of widespread parent education efforts.
The rate of SIDS deaths is 2 to 3 times higher for African Americans and Native Americans.
The rate of SIDS deaths in other countries varies quite a bit, in part because of the lack of a clear definition of SIDS being used in all parts of the world.
The article also goes on to discuss the ways to help prevent it.
08-06-2002, 08:33 AM
Wow, hedra, how'd you stick that long post in while I was composing mine? I'm still worried about the DEET issue. I have read that 10% DEET is safe for 6-month olds and up, but he's always sucking on our arms and legs and clothes and his own hands and feet, I'm concerned about it.
We actually got the mat you're referring to (Thermarest, although we got the Campmor version). It's perfectly flat and it self-inflates. I wanted it because it wasn't bulky, but I admit, I didn't even think of the dangers of the fluffier baffled versions.
I'm concerned about sleeping next to Aaron not just because of the rolling over, SIDS fears, but also because I have never been able to get him to nap with me. He won't lay down with me at all. The Snuggle Nest you linked to sounds interesting but the specs say it's only to be used until they push up or rollover, and he does both. The sleeping and the bugs are the big issues for me. Worries of a dirty baby is more his father's issue :)
Big Sam: Ouch. I had poison ivy on my arms once. Everywhere? You poor guy!
08-06-2002, 09:15 AM
If he won't nap with you, I think you're gonna have to figure out a way to fit the pack-n-play into the tent. Gabe wouldn't sleep with us, either. We used a pack-n-play when traveling. Brendan is a quiet sleeper, and likes sleeping with us. So when we travel, that's what he does. I suspect you'll regret it if you try something you know doesn't work at home. COULD be a positive surprise, but I'm betting agin it.
Sorry, didn't see the specs on the sleeper. Sigh. Bummer, that would have been helpful...
(I included the SIDS link for BBF)
I thought the newest research on DEET says it isn't as toxic as they feared, and that even 100% DEET could be used on kids? My mom mentioned the research to me, I haven't seen it myself. Check around for info released in the last month or so. I'm still leery, myself, though, so I understand your hesitance. (and right there with you about the mouthing - Brendan loves to lick, chew, or blow spit bubbles on every exposed bit of skin...)
08-06-2002, 11:21 AM
I'd bring along sunscreen, and I'm saying that from experience. :eek: Also, the baby probably won't sit still for long trips in a car seat. Be ready to take lots of breaks while driving if you're going far from home.
08-06-2002, 08:31 PM
I think its great that you're taking your bub camping.
We first took our son camping when he was just over a month old. I had a lot of help from the in-laws as well, which made a difference. But camping is such a big part of our life, we decided that he would just have to fit into that.
Thanks to that, though, camping is a non-event now. The kids are used to it, and are happy to drive for hours and hours on end to get to the destination. And they are able to help out around the campsite.
The earlier you start, the earlier it becomes second nature to the kids, and the easier things will be. Have fun!
08-06-2002, 08:35 PM
Re carriers...the beagle pack just purchased the Kelty Meadow (http://www.kelty.com/Kelty/index.cfm?fuseaction=Kids.ShowProduct&type=Carriers&ID=11) carrier for our 1 year old.
mrs beagledave gives it a thumbs up (she uses it the most)
08-07-2002, 07:48 AM
cornflakes: Thanks for the sunscreen reminder. The poor little guy got my skin tone (the kind that burns almost immediately) rather than his father's olive skin tone. We've managed to keep him nice and pale all summer so far. We expect to be doing alot of stopping along the way, too.
Tsubaki: We have friends who take their 3 daughters camping everywhere. The husband is a rock climber and the kids already climb all over everything--they're totally fearless. We're hoping Aaron learns to appreciate nature the way we do.
Beagledave: We got the Kelty Ridgeline. Man, those things are really loaded with all the bells and whistles. We were told at Campmor that the best Kelty carrier ever is the Elite--which Kelty stopped making, of course. They always stop making the really good stuff. We looked for one on E-Bay but no one had one up for auction.
I'm feeling more comfortable about this trip now. Thanks. Please keep the tips coming.
08-07-2002, 08:34 AM
Originally posted by Ceejaytee
Mangetout: We use a water filter for natural sources. Do you think that's sufficient for kidlings? We wouldn't have to boil potable water from campgrounds, would we?I don't know; it depends on where you are going, I suppose (I remember being at a campsite early in the season once and (I assume) being the first to use the drinking water standpipe that year; the first few gallons of water contained loads of little wriggly red things; I'm not sure how much harm they would have done if ingested though, but I suppose the point is that something else could have been reproducing in there too.
You could always just take a big bottle of low mineral content water with you...
08-07-2002, 06:48 PM
Keep an eye out for dingos.
08-08-2002, 02:34 AM
All of my kids got used to being bunged in the car and taken to some magical destination.....lots of bush and no facilities.
Kids love getting dirty...don't fret about it, and chuck them in the creek if they get really gross.
As far as sleeping goes, make sure they don't steal all of the doona......chuck them in the creek if they get out of line.
Open campfires can be a bit tricky......if you make it big enough, the kid won't be able to get within 4' of it before getting scorched. It's a wonderful preventative, but also makes the cooking chore a bit of a problem for you......expect burnt snags and hands, and singed hair. If they DO get burnt, chuck them in the creek.
Don't forget to pack LOTS of disposable nappies. Whilst adults tend to get a bit 'bound-up' (at least for the first few days of camping), little 'uns are more than happy to continue shitting. Lots. More than lots. Babies like to shit. It keeps them happy. If you can't scrape the shit off, chuck 'em in the creek.
Kids will eat anything that is covered with charcoal or dirt. I think it's a throwback to our prehistoric past. Just remember to remember this when you get back home to your formica kitchen and your microwave if your kid turns his nose up at your gourmet offering.
Take along a bottle of cider vinegar for the inevitable bull-ant bites and other miscellaneous cuts and scrapes. If the vinegar doesn't ease the sting, chuck them in the creek.
Also remember that when the toddler says he saw a snake, it was probably a 3" skink that was running-like-hell away from his chubby clutches. It was heading for the creek!
Be prepared for some really bad smells in the car on your way home. It comes from a week of charred sausages and no showering. And the smells are NOT coming from the kid!! Remember, the kid has been in the creek on more occasions than YOU have.....you are the one that stinks.
Oh, and keep an eye out for kangawallabats. They're bastards.
08-08-2002, 10:59 AM
kambuckta: I think I need a special dictionary for "doona," "skink," and "kangawallabats." But if I see something I don't recognize, I'll just chuck it in the creek. Thanks!
Bryan: There are no dingos in North America. But the skinks and kangawallabats . . . tr-ou-ble! 'Course, Montreal might be a special case.
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